June was traditionally the month of the Miners’ Galas. Today we are remembering a very special Gala –
“THE NOTTINGHAMSHIRE MINERS CENTENARY GALA – 6TH JUNE 1981
In his introduction to the Centenary Programme, which celebrated one hundred years (1881 – 1981) of trade unionism in Nottinghamshire, Bernard Taylor (Lord Taylor of Mansfield) said that:
“It is almost 73 years (1908) since I, as a boy, joined the Miners’ Union as a Half Member. The weekly contribution was three pennies (pre decimalisation coins) the adult contribution was six pennies (pre decimalisation). “
“In the early part of the century and the latter part of the last, there was emerging a “Union consciousness. In 1908 the Union was only 27 years old, barely out of its swaddling clothes, a mere strippling, but now well established. This Union awareness, was the language of the home, the chapel, the pub and the street corner, look it was argued, individually isolated we are helpless, nothing will be achieved, but together united in membership of the Union, this is the way forward and so it was in simple, plain unsophisticated language, such slogans as “Unity is our strength” and “United we stand, “Divided we fall” were coined.”
At this Centenary Gala, 33 Brass Bands and 10 Juvenile Jazz Bands marched in the demonstration and parade, representing virtually every mining community in Nottinghamshire.
At the front of the Parade proudly marched the Creswell Colliery Welfare (Rexco) Band. In 1950, eighty miners lost their lives through carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of an underground fire at Creswell Colliery. Some families had to wait 6 months to recover the bodies of their loved ones, and some had to wait 11 months.
Such sacrifices are never forgotten by mining communities who stand in solidarity with each other at such times.
Trade Unions, the Nottinghamshire Miners Association in 1881 and the Nottinghamshire National Union of Mineworkers (1944) have a proud history campaigning for better working conditions, improved safety standards and compensations for industrial injuries and accidents. The 1981 Centenary Gala celebrated that progress whilst setting out in the Centenary Gala’s Resolution:
“We are every mindful of all our colleagues and members who have lost their lives in accidents at work and improved safety and health regulations to reduce fatalities and accidents must at all times by our priority.”
The Miners Hymn ‘Gresford’ is often played to mark such terrible tragedies. This is a link to Thoresby Colliery Band playing ‘Gresford’, The Miners’ Hymn – Video | Thoresby Band